Tuesday night before the Cincinnati Reds game began against the Chicago White Sox, manager David Bell announced that Luis Castillo will take the mound on Opening Day. Since being called up in June of 2017, the 26-year-old right handed has posted an ERA of 3.89 in 259.0 innings for Cincinnati. Last year his ERA ballooned up to 4.30, but after the calendar flipped to May, he was the same old Luis Castillo as he was in 2017, essentially. In those 141.0 innings after April ended his ERA was 3.57 and he struck out 141 batters with just 36 walks.
He’s had some struggles this spring, but as fellow Redleg Nation writer Jason Linden will be sure to tell you on twitter, on the Redleg Nation Radio podcast, or probably from a megaphone on the streets – spring training stats do not matter. He’s not wrong, either.
Three of the other four spots in the rotation were also named. To the surprise of no one, Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Anthony DeSclafani will also be in the rotation and follow Castillo in that order, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.
The fifth starter spot has not been announced yet. There is a spot open, at least early on in the year, because Alex Wood is not ready to take the mound just yet due to a back issue that tightened up on him the day after his last start. Tyler Mahle is likely the favorite to get the nod – no one else remaining in big league camp has made more than two starts. Lucas Sims, who was on the mound for Cincinnati on Tuesday night, has an ERA of 8.10 on the spring and threw just 2.2 innings in the game. Mahle, by comparison, has an ERA of 3.60 with 2 walks and 14 strikeouts in 10.0 innings. (cue everyone telling me that Jason said spring stats don’t matter and I agreed with him)
Depending on exactly how the team feels about when Alex Wood could return, they could also give a few starts to Michael Lorenzen to begin the season. That would potentially allow a little more flexibility in how the roster would shape up for the first few weeks of the season. That is, if the Reds wanted to go that route.